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Ayatollah Khamenei rejects talks with US

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei strongly rejected an offer by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden for direct talks over the country's nuclear development program in remarks posted on his website on Thursday. Biden made the offer on Saturday saying the U.S. was ready to hold one-on-one talks with Iran "when the Iranian leadership, supreme leader, is serious." However, Khamenei maintained that talks would not solve the problem. He wrote, "You take up arms against the nation of Iran and say: 'negotiate or we fire.' But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated into actions." The statement came after the U.S. Treasury Department announced new economic sanctions on Wednesday as sanctions that were enacted in August 2012 took effect. The new sanctions target companies involved in inhibiting the flow of information and cracking down on dissent such as the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its director, the Iran Cyber Police, the Communications Regulatory Authority, and Iran Electronics Industries which makes equipment used for jamming and monitoring. The sanctions from last summer will target companies connected with Iran's energy, petrochemical, insurance, financial, and shipping sectors. While one senior U.S. official said the move is "a significant turning of the screw" others are more skeptical. According to another senior U.S. official, "The people may be suffering in Iran, but the supreme leader isn't, and he's the only one who counts."

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